The beauty of white space

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  • August 16, 2013

Negative space, in art, is the space around and between the subject(s) of an image. Negative space may be most evident when the space around a subject, and not the subject itself, forms an interesting or artistically relevant shape, and such space is occasionally used to artistic effect as the “real” subject of an image. The use of negative space is a key element of artistic composition. (Wikipedia)

Negative space, or white space, in design is the way we carefully cultivate where the eye is supposed to rest on a page. Without enough of it, there’s no way to know where we’re supposed to be looking. With too much of it, our eyes float around and our gaze is never anchored.

It’s a precarious balancing act.

When some folks look at the work I’ve done for clients, they say, “It doesn’t look like you did much to the site. Anyone could do that.”

Minimalist design revolves around removing all elements and leaving only those which create the greatest impact. There’s no room for decoration or flourish, because it doesn’t communicate anything. No, it does communicate something: fear.

Many people are afraid of white space — it feels empty and they must fill it. They fill it with cluttered sidebars; too many flashy graphics at once; or with endless calls to action.

When was the last time you sat back and said to yourself, “I wish I could take more elements out of my website. Or my business.”?

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, the answer is… never.

Exploring white space in business

We all know that business runs in cycles. Sometimes, those cycles follow the seasons. Other times, the cycles follow the ebb and flow of your business model.

Often, we are consumed by “what’s next”: the elusive qualifier that never seems to be satisfied. We’re so busy running from one thing to the next that we hardly take time to relish where we’re at. Sure, there are bills to be paid and yes, there are people to be served. But there will always be bills. There will always be clients and customers.

And their experience will be heightened by anticipation, much as yours is.

The white space — the spaces in between This Thing and the Next Big Thing — is what anchors us to what matters: the Big Why of our biznez.

In our harried lives as entrepreneurs, it’s hard to recognize that rest is necessary. And although screwing around and experimenting is necessary, it should be something that is best left “in-house” — within the borders of our businesses — while we work out what’s working and what’s not working. And, most importantly, why.

When you look at your website tomorrow, what can you remove to ensure the greatest impact?

When you look at your business next week, what can you remove to streamline the experience for your Perfect People?

What’s preventing you from embracing white space?

About Amanda Farough

The visionary. Ardent adorer of trailblazing entrepreneurs and rebellious rulers. Mama in many, many capacities (but especially to two younglings). Sometimes podcaster. Always nerd. The Force is strong with this one.

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